Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of Year Synopsis at Global Wahrman

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The new year comes and the new year goes.

The thief reminds Brian to always look on the bright side of life.

Let us embrace our negativity and be positive about it so we can have the very best negative attitude of anyone.

First, on the positive side, although the Ken Perlin project is over, it was very educational and left a little money in the bank. Working with Dr. Perlin is like some sort of therapy process: the man is astoundingly productive and high energy. As a side effect of this project, I picked up a dozen or more skills that no doubt will be useful in one way or another.

Second, this blog is coming along although I would wish to have written more on certain topics that will contribute to a book or two being planned, especially the one based on the course I taught at NYU on the history of visual effects. I am not altogether sure who reads my blog, but apparently some people do and I appreciate it.

Third, my health is stable, and all I need is money and a lot more energy to engineer my way through the corrupt and insane system the medical community and our government has put in place. Can one really manage this fucked up system and do a normal job? Probably a moot point because I am unlikely to be given a normal job anytime in the next 2 or 3 hundred thousand years.

Fourth, I think I am making a tremendous amount of progress in managing my anger. I am in touch with my feelings and I am perfectly ok with my anger and really dont care when people get upset because I express my opinion. Its cool with me.

Fifth, I have a number of friends who are doing very well in life and their career, and while it is not enough to live vicariously through them, it is certainly great to see.

On the downside we have some of the following: (a) three friends passed away and two more are struggling with serious health issues, and those are just the ones I know about, (b) I am disgusted with the hypocrisy and lies in our country, our government, and our world. (c) Given my financial status, I see absolutely no way to achieve anything like my potential in this world and this affects my ability to plan and act. I was much more productive when I was disconnected from reality.

There is some progress in the world, even if it is minor. The support given to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is intriguing, even if I am cynical about what effect it has. The level of corruption of our local police and government, the way it exalts the rich and enslaves the poor, our hypocrisy and our impotence to change the system, disgusts me.

It makes one wonder if people were just lying when you were growing up and told you things, or if they were lying to themselves. Probably some of both, but mostly I think the people at the top were just lying.

None of the new technology matters if you are so poor you can not work with it. None of these new fields matter if you do not have the resources to participate.

I hope that you will have a wonderful new year and enjoy yourself in the time you have left. I hope you will keep reading my blog from time to time.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Is "The Force Awakens" A Film About White People?

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This film contains a very modest spoiler for The Force Awakens.

You could hardly not notice the John Boyega character in the first trailer of Star Wars. His Black skin was set against the white of storm trooper uniform, the sand and the sky. The implication was that this was the first time a Black man would be a leading character of the Star Wars films and not merely a token character chosen to appeal to a Black audience (i.e. the Billy Dee Williams and Samuel Jackson characters).

The character played by Mr. Boyega is certainly one of the main characters of the film, or so someone as naive about race relations such as myself might have thought.  But maybe not.


Hey I'm in a Star Wars movie!


In this editorial by Andre Seewood of the “Shadow and Act” blog of Indiewire, “Hyper-Tokenism: The “Force Awakens” While the Black Man Sleeps”, see here, he makes the argument that the Finn character is just a new style of token Black character and that in reality nothing has changed.

He makes the following points. First, that because Finn is knocked unconscious near the end of the movie, he does not actually participate in the climax of the film. Second, that Finn is a second class character in that he does not have the Force, does not speak Droid, and so forth. Third, that he fits the model of the “Hyper Token” Black person which amounts to giving the Black character much more screen time but depriving him or her of the dramatic potential of how the film is resolved: that ultimately the film is by White people about White people. And fourth, that he finds some sort of connection between this type of character and the final year of the Obama Administration.

He goes on to further describe how annoyed he is at the Black community for supporting a film like this that so crassly exploits Black people.  

I was a little surprised by this discussion, I had not really thought about it.  I did interpret the casting of Boyega in a cynical manner, assuming that the filmmakers had cast him as a way of marketing the film.  As a person who often passes as White it is easy for me to overlook the racial implications.  

It is implicit to Seewood's argument that nothing about such a character would be accidental and that therefore it is fair to look for motive and, being a little sensitive to the larger issues, to be looking for limitations in the range of the character, as Mr. Seewood certainly is.  

I think his editorial is worth reading and thinking about.

My knee jerk opinion is that probably, and in the absence of any other evidence, that any racism is accidental.  A fair rejoinder to that argument might be that by 2015 nothing on the topic could possibly be accidental.

Two final points that are far less interesting. I did not understand his Obama argument at all. President Obama seems about as White as a Black person could be. And second, apparently the correct way to spell Black is to capitalize it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wikipedia and the Moral Dilemma

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I use Wikipedia every day, at least once a day and probably more often than that. In their latest fundraising, I sent them $10.00 and if you know how cheap I am these days, that is quite a statement on my part.

And yet....

Every once in a while I come across egregious and even gross inaccuracies and therein lies the moral dilemma. Wikipedia is created by thousands of dedicated individuals most of whom are volunteers and all of whom are committed fanatics who probably have nothing better to do with their lives. I tried just this year to fix one egregious character assassination on their part of a living person (Marc Canter), something they *claim* to take special care about, and it was a nightmare. Its all bullshit my friends, they couldn't care less about accuracy as long as they get their rocks off.

So when I come across mistakes, even gross mistakes, what am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to tilt at windmills and try to fix their misapprehensions? What good will it do? In situations like this, it is the insider who wins, the one with the most time to waste, usually the one who is most insane, and contrary to some beliefs I am not even slightly insane or at least I have no desire to waste my time trying to correct asshole beliefs.

Never try to teach a pig to sing.

If you want to read the bullshit and try to guess what the mistakes are, please see

You see, contrary to what you see in the movies, almost all black operations are legal, they are approved through a process that involves the Department of Justice, the Intelligence Committees of Congress, and of course the Executive Office of the President and various of his/her staff.   The process of approval is circumscribed in order to keep things as secret as possible, which is something that this government, as stated in the constitution and as approved by the courts, has the right to do.

You should realize that the process is not perfect, that it has changed over the decades, often in response to perceived abuses of the system by various administrations, and because the various Intelligence agencies believe that they have been used by various Administrations and then allowed to hang.   

You should also realize that almost all Intelligence activities have at their core the violation of someone's law, generally speaking, just not US law.  And yes, this is a tricky point in international relations, one that, upon examination, could make one wonder to what extent nations respect international law and to what extent they just pay lip service to it and invoke it when it is convenient to do so.

What Wikipedia should be saying here is that while black operations do not have normal Congressional oversight, they do have a process of approval that has been approved by Congress and the courts, and that these operations are therefore, in general, believed to be legal activities of the US Government, although by definition they are not ones that they would want to be publicly disclosed.

In other words, the paranoid interpretation that all secret intelligence operations by this country are illegal and not approved by the government is simply not true.

But that said, or at least that is my understanding, do I really want to try and change Wikipedia?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

CIA Digs Tunnel from Richmond Virginia to Berlin


Back when we had patriotism in this country and before we collapsed into political acrimony and paranoid hatred of our own government, we all worked together to focus our paranoia outward and against the spectre of Marxism. Marxism and its cousin-in-law Communism, if left unchecked, promised to inconvenience our rich and self-entitled elite which could only lead inevitably to the empowerment of the disenfranchised whose lives were hopelessly crushed by poverty and racism.

To fight this Socialist evil all true Americans, North and South, black and white, came together and did their part to fight the Cold War and maintain our way of life.

I am proud to report that even my adopted home city, Richmond, Virginia did its part to fight the cold war.

One of the triumphs of the Cold War was the CIA's Berlin Tunnel in which they dug a tunnel from the US Zone to the Soviet Zone in Berlin and were able to tap some telephone cables that carried military communications from Berlin to Moscow. The tunnel was in operation for 11 months and was a giant success in its time, but its real value came afterwards when, to everyone's surprise, the Russians made the discovery of the tunnel public in order to show the perfidy and lack of good faith of the West.


The tunnel

One of the great moments in “unexpected consequences” this revelation increased the status of the USA in the eyes of Europeans who did not believe that we had the sophistication to pull such espionage off. In fact, we really didnt, and relied to a significant degree on the British, but that is another story.

Many years afterwards, since the tunnel was hardly a secret, the CIA published a report on the tunnel, its genesis, execution and aftermath.

For a summary, see here.

For a discussion of actually building the tunnel, see here.

And what should I find but in that latter report the news that Richmond Virginia, where I grew up, had a role to play in this effort:




I can only hope that the people who dug this trial tunnel ate at Waffle House or at the Commonwealth Club, perhaps even at the Country Club of Virginia.

I have confidence that even today, Virginians would rally to their call and work to support the CIA in their efforts.

______________________________________


For another discussion of the tunnel and its discovery, see 



Friday, December 4, 2015

An Appreciation of Conan The Barbarian (1982)


In this post I am going to argue that a low-budget firm from the 1982 which has been dismissed as some sort of comical misfire is in fact a well-intentioned, and surprisingly well-executed film that captures the spirit of the genre it was derived from.  In other words, because the genre itself is somewhat goofy in a certain way, then it is perfectly acceptable for the film to be goofy as well, as long as it fits the material.  Its a difficult road to take and can be misunderstood by people outside the genre who don't know what they are looking at.

Living as we do in a very insincere time, with hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement the new integrity, and motion pictures being as false as they have ever been, with huge budgets for anti-masterpieces like Avengers: Age of Ultron, the ultimate empty movie, it was a shock to more-or-less accidentally see a low-budget film from 1982 that I had often heard dismissed and criticized, and discover an integrity that no one had ever mentioned to me in the context of this film.

This film, of course, is Conan the Barbarian (1982) directed by John Milius and written by Milius and Oliver Stone.


Conan studies acting with great diligence and you can see his acting improve as the movie proceeds.


Before I go any further, let us return briefly to the time in the 1970s and 1980s when there were ghettoized forms of what the publishing industry dismissed as "children's literature" before these subgenres were recognized as being vastly important sources of revenue for infinitely cynical media corporations.  And in those more innocent days, authors of these subgenres eked out a living, barely, and were unknown except to their publisher, their literary agent, and a few thousand readers and hardcore fans, many of whom would attend science fiction or fantasy conferences.   And those fans and authors, mostly ignored by the mainstream, would occasionally see a terrible movie adaptation of their beloved subgenre or occasionally, very rarely, an excellent effort that really delivered, especially when seen in light of the filmmakers limited resources.

Two examples of low-budget films that were excellent efforts even with very low budgets include Highlander (1986) and The Wicker Man (1973) both of which were well-received by the community of readers of their respective genre..  

Of course now that we live in a time when Hollywood desperately pillages these subgenres as a way of making money, having failed completely to create any creative areas of their own, we must wonder if it was not better to be left in our ghetto rather than be ruthlessly exploited by these scum both on the screen and at the circus that has become Comic Con.

One of these dismissed literary ghettos was the subgenre of “sword and sorcery” and, within that subgenre, was a series of stories by Robert E Howard first published in Weird Tales in 1932 about a barbarian named Conan who worshiped a god named Crom. Conan evolved in many ways over the decades, sometimes going by the name Conan the Barbarian, sometimes by the name Conan the Cimmerarian, and sometimes jokingly called Gonad the Barbarian. There were a billion books and comic books written about this character and somehow I managed to read none of them. But certainly they were a valid property of the sf and fantasy subgenres and a beloved child of the community.

So when I heard that Dino and Raffaela de Laurentis were planning a production of Conan I had no particular expectation that they had anything very authentic in mind.  And when it came out, I heard a lot of criticism from reviewers.  But that was a mistake on my part, because how could mainstream reviewers hope to understand a movie based on Robert Howard's work?

And there are many superficial corny elements in this movie.  But this is Conan, he beats people over the head with a sword and defeats exotic and beautiful witches after sleeping with them, and when appropriate he burns down temples and yet he never forgets where he came from and that he swore vengeance.

But there were clues all through this movie that something more than average was going on. Perhaps the biggest single clue was that the film was written by John Milius and Oliver Stone.  Both of these gentlemen are actually pretty good writers.  

At various times during the film I felt the pure vision of Howard's oeuvre and laughed almost in astonishment.  Yes a little goofy when you look at it as a jaded adult but it is necessary to find the child in you, the child that read Howard's work, and there it was, miraculously, somehow on the screen.


Arnold looks great as Conan


The film was shot in Spain with mostly unknown actors with the exception of James Earl Jones as the major bad guy, and Max von Sydow in a cameo as a distressed King and father.  Arnold is in his first movie here, and he starts out a little stiff but he gets better as the film goes along.  You can see him improve.   And it works.

One might even wonder if, in another life, or parallel universe, if James Earl Jones would not have received a best supporting actor nomination for his role as Doom.


Doom smiles at Conan as he is being tortured.


I felt that the film had integrity, delivered on its promises and deserves to be on the list of notable films Hollywood has made in the science fiction and fantasy genres.  Maybe not great art, but better than expected.

Good job, guys and gals.   I hope the film helped your careers back then and led to the artistic destinies you deserved and desired.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Prayer to Climate Change


This is a not altogether successful attempt to write a prayer with a little of that great Old Testament, prophet of doom, feeling.  It is from the heart.  I am sincerely tired of waiting for Global Climate Change to arrive, and I think it is a great opportunity to wash away some of the evil in this world.   So, bear with me as I let loose with a little venom.

(Raising my hands to heaven)

1. Invocation

Come, climate change, come now.

Bring forth the rising tide of the oceans of Your vengeance. Wash away the cities filled with the deniers of Truth. Bring down upon the world Your wrath at the biped mammals filled with greed and sin and corruption.

2. Justification

They deserve to personally experience the results of their actions and their failure to act.  It is the people who are living today who deserve this punishment.

They knew what was right and wrong and they denied the evidence of their eyes out of greed. They used their power to defeat sane discussion of the issues and defeated efforts to solve the problems before it was too late.

3. Punishment

They deserve to see the oceans rise and their cities washed away.  They deserve to see the continent wide movement of refugees who flee drought and the tragic wars that result.

El Nino, my Brother, wash away the tears of the mothers of the student-teachers, all who were killed by their politicians who serve Mammon.

Fire from the heavens, burn away the corrupt flesh from the cities of Santa Ana and Los Angeles who have violated their oaths to imprison the innocent.  Destroy these corrupt politicians in whatever city or country they exist.

Release the carbon from the oceans.  Crush the glaciers into ice cubes and allow the fresh water to change the ocean currents.  Outgas the methane hydrate from Siberia and release new greenhouse gasses into the biosphere.

4. Conclusion

Now is the time.

We pray for the catastrophes to cleanse the world not 100 years from now or even 100 months from now but now.

Forgive us for our impatience but look with favor on our plea.

Every day we hope for the tsunami of shit that is your vengeance to wipe away these scum and leave the world pure as it once was.


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For those of you who are not up on your biblical curses, Mammon has a variety of meanings, but is considered to be one of the angels serving Lucifer.  

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammon



Zoltar and I


Taken by David Yost after the Stock Gaines Memorial Sercice.  We went from the service to the Santa Monica Pier to check on the current status of Playland.  Playland was in good shape.

I think this is a pretty good picture that Dave has captured because (a) Zoltar seems to be making eye contact, and (b) he captures my mood perfectly.



The Los Angeles Car Show in 2015 ... Future? What Future?


Sometimes we are called to look into the heart of Hell, the Devil's home, the place of Sin, where Righteousness is relegated to the gutter and vile Evil is outlined in chrome and worshiped.

For Los Angeles, the city of the Angels, what could symbolize Satan more than the automobile? This one invention has caused the corruption of the civic body, the destruction of neighborhood after neighborhood, the contamination of the very air with the fumes of Sulphur and other chemicals from the Infernal Regions, the people daily subjected to the insanity of traffic that sucks away their life and their hope, the parade of elite vehicles on the pothole filled streets that  provide some of the worst examples of the rich demonstrating their greed and indifference in the face of obscene poverty.

In Los Angeles we have the second largest automobile show in the world, second only to Detroit. Surely in light of the gross corruption and degradation of Los Angeles through the institution of the automobile  the annual car show must be the very Citadel of Mammon!

What will we see? The best? The worst? The future? The past?

I have always wanted to attend this show but through sheer Sloth I have never made it. But on this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, it was easy for me to tag along with others who were going and I did.

It also provided an opportunity to drive in my first Tesla and I was impressed.

My friend, the owner of this Tesla made the point that Tesla had proven that the barriers to entry to the automobile industry in this country were no longer the gating factor. For decades it has been said that no new brands could come into existence without an enormous amount of money and maybe not even then.  But Tesla has proven otherwise.

My friend and I both believe that we are on the cusp of a tsunami of change that will whack the automotive industry the way it has deserved to be whacked for decades.  Self-parking, autonomy, and semi-autonomy, new drive trains hybrid and electric, new manufacturers in the People's Republic of China and India, we should expect that the dinosaurs of the past will be swept into the gutter where they belong and replaced by a new people and a new legion of car manufacturers.

Too bad America, you had your chance and you completely fucked it up.   This time the government wont save you.

This is the second largest car show in the country, possibly the world. I would expect the existing manufacturers to take their head out of their ass (the tragedy of rectal-cranial inversion) and present their ideas about the future to their loyal base. That is pretty much who comes to car shows I think, the loyal base of customers who care enough to spend the day and $15.00 checking out the polished and mechanical visions of the automobile manufacturers.

This is a short list of what I might expect at least from some of the exhibitors:

I would expect there to be demonstrations of some of this new technology, even if it was not ready to be deployed to the consumer. So I would expect demonstrations of self-parking cars, cars which were autonomous for long distance driving, cars that were autonomous for city driving. These demonstrations might not be using real, full-size cars. They might be short films on a large display, mini-documentaries if you will, or they might be radio controlled model cars, or even films of radio controlled model cars. I think that would have been very entertaining and would have the result of helping to associate that brand with innovation in the eyes and minds of their hard-core customer base.

I might expect expect to see a time line of the future of these technologies at the brand. What is often called a “road map”. I would expect a company that published such a road map to hedge their bets in numerous ways, but it might indicate when they thought a new drive train (e.g. hybrid, electric, solar) might be available, or when a new brand for a new technology might come into existence. Public companies have to be very careful about what they say about the future and I do not know all the rules, but still I would expect some of this road map to ba available, however hedged.

I might expect to see live demonstrations of such things as new displays for car control, or eye/head tracking so that they knew where the driver was looking.

I might expect that the different power trains already in production might be clearly marked out: what was a traditional gasoline engine, a rotary engine, a hybrid engine, an electric one, and so forth.

I might expect that the insurance industry would have some sort of presence to explain how they are working with industry and government to evolve this incredibly important aspect of driving.

I might expect some sort of discussion of the gross violation of trust that Volkswagon was guilty of, and how that is being handled for the future both by Volkswagon and other brands.

Since it is an open secret that people are reprogramming their cars to change engine and other parameters of a vehicle away from those set by the manufacturer, I might expect some sort of statement about where the car companies stood on this practice.

Since I knew that some of the car companies are performing trials with new technologies, I might expect some description of these trials and what is expected to come out of them and when.

And finally here is one more.  We are in the midst of the Paris Climate Talks. What positions are the various car companies taking with the respective governments on climate change?  Well this is a critical thing to know.  How can they not know?  How could they not tell us?  Are these the same old lying pieces of garbage car companies like the ones that destroyed mass transit in LA?   (Yes they did.  The counter rumors are just lies, they really, really did destroy mass transit in LA all those years ago).

But none of the above was visible at the car show. It was as if they expected nothing to change, no information needed to be communicated. All was well in the garden.

Total zip.

Not quite. There were, if you knew where to look, completely without any description, some cool vehicles that I happened to know were a part of tests. You had to know what they were, and what they represented and make your own guess about whether this might really ever become available but there were a few there.

There were many examples on the floor of innovative technologies, but essentially none of them were active and you had to know enough to even realize they were there. For many years now, apparently, certain high end cars have had a display that allows you to see your odometer, etc, without refocus from far to near distance. There were several, possibly even many, examples of this technology on the floor, but none of them were on, and you had to know they were there.

My friend pointed out in their defense that the show was as popular as ever, that people were buying more cars than ever before, that in some sense of the word, this show was serving the purpose that it was meant to serve, and I had to agree with him.

But for those of us who went because we thought in light of all these new technologies, changes, and violation of trust, that this car show would also present some vision of the future, we left disappointed. Perhaps we were wrong to expect such a theme at the car show.

But it seems to me in light of the tsunami of change that is coming down the road for these companies, that a vision of the future would have been a very smart thing to have on display for the attendees of this show, who were self-selected to be the most interested in the automobile in this city, the most car oriented city of the Union.

But I am happy to say that there was one redeeming exhibit: a magnificent statue of Satan, Lucifer himself, the fallen one, in the middle of all the car exhibitors laughing, laughing at the impending disaster that will wipe them off the face of the earth and straight to the hell that they so deserve.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Uses of History at the LA Car Show


For the first time ever I attended the Los Angeles Car Show, a show I will discuss in a later post in more detail.

The car show provided me a useful example of why I believe that history is so important and why I think we make a mistake when we, specifically Los Angeles, pay so little attention to our own history. Many people tell me that this lack of history is what they like about Los Angeles, and of course I do not agree. One of these people happened to be my host at the car show, and was the most knowledgeable about what we were seeing.

Pretty much all exhibits at the Car Show, not every one but most of them, also had some sort of interesting example from the history of that manufacturer. If the exhibit had 20 new cars and models, it might have one car off on the side from the 1960s or some other period. One manufacturer might have several such cars, some might have none. Those who had such cars might not always explain its context enough for me, were I alone, but I was with someone who knew his cars and car history and so could explain the context.

This show was an excellent example of what I mean about how History can be used to help us understand our present and where we might go in the future. It is a homage to the successes of the past and where we came from. It helps us to remember who we are and why this company came into existence. It does not have to dominate the present or the future, but it can add color and reinforce loyalty. Its fun. I think its useful.

Off the top of my head, and without proper photographic documentation, I recall that we had a Mazda Cosmo, a very cute little sports car, we had several examples from Alfa Romeo in their classic period, we had a completely bizarre multiengine race car from that brief time period where apparently adding engines was the thing to do. And of course, in honor of the new James Bond movie we had a classic Aston Martin DB6 and I had my one moment of car history glory by explaining that one subtext of the performance cars of that period was that they were so damn hard to drive, you had to be James Bond or someone of that skill to be able to drive it at all.

So there it is, nothing too complicated.

History adds color. History memorializes where we came from and some of our better moments. It does not need to be a straight jacket on the present or the future, but I think it makes our present and our future all the more interesting because we remember who we are.

For me, it was the historical part of the show that was the most worthwhile.


Monday, November 30, 2015

Glamourous Fashion Shoot Observed on Expo Line


So I am on the Expo line between Culver City and downtown Los Angeles when suddenly 5 people get on. We are about to all be part of a fashion shoot.

The subjects are two oriental, probably Japanese, young women in some sort of friendly but conservative sports wear. They sit together on one of the rows of the train across from me and engage in a pseudo conversation under the direction of the photographer.

The photographer is a young woman in perhaps her early 30s. She is dressed in full hipster scruffy and directs the fashion models and takes 99 percent of the pictures over the next 10 plus minutes. She has not one but two assistants, one of whom, the lead assistant, wins the award for full-scruffy regalia. I was not close enough to tell, but from appearances we would guess he had not shaved or bathed for a solid week if not more. The other assistant was primarily a big fellow who watched over and carried the various tripods and backpacks filled with equipment that was not being used right that second.

The equipment in use seemed to be two bodies, one of them the high end Canon, and one of them a Sony, what I believe must have been a full-frame sensor mirrorless body with a Canon lens adapter on it. But it could have been any of the Sony full-frame bodies for all I could tell. There were two lenses in use, both of them Canon zooms, what I think was the 28-70 MM and the 70-200 MM zoom which was the lens most in use. Both bodies were used about equally, but with lens switches it was the 70-200 MM mostly in use.

From time to time the scruffy lead photographer, a very entertaining looking woman who shot the entire time with very dark sunglasses on (I dont actually understand how you do photography with very dark sunglasses the whole time, but thats just me) would give direction to the models, the jist of which was that they should pretend to chatter away like best friends saying absolutely nothing of consequence.

I would guess that about 500-600 photographs were taken in the 10 minutes they were on the train.  This  is a very loose estimate based on at least one photograph per second for 10 minutes.  Often it seemed the lead photographer was shooting more than 1 per second.

I would guess that the two zoom lenses were a matched set, in other words, between the two of them we had the full range of 28 mm to 200 mm, and that she needed that flexibility to compose the shots given that she could not easily change her position in the train.

As an additional accessory to this glamourous fashion shoot, having a British accent may be useful.  She certainly seemed to have one, at least as far as I could tell the few times I heard her speak.

At one point during this period, two very colorful men of color with disabilities, large and profane of speech, got on and I felt would be very entertaining backgrounds but I think she composed them out of the shoot because I did not notice anyone getting any kind of rights waiver.

After about 10 plus minutes of this, the whole crew got off on a stop and quite possibly got on the same train going the other direction. This you could repeat as long as you liked while the light was available, in other words for hours.

As always, it is entertaining to watch professionals at work. The thing that particularly stood out to me was that every time I have seen a professional of this type on location, there was at least one assistant and in this case two. Also, there was no toy equipment. Obviously everything was digital, there were no film changes but that is what we would expect. I was impressed and surprised to see the Sony body as the second body. I have heard that this was happening and obviously this is good for Sony. It perhaps makes them the third professional photography brand behind Canon and Nikon.

Earlier in the day, in Culver City, I had walked by a film shoot on location and I asked what project. The security guard said it was a commercial. So that suggests that on this Sunday we had not one but two professional commercial shoots going on in Culver City that I just happened to run into. This suggests to me that advertising production is healthy in Los Angeles, which is certainly good for the economy.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Evil Chinese Conspiracy to Cripple American Wine Appreciation


It is the nature of the rise and fall of civilizations that the elites of the rising civilization by their very nature impose their aesthetics on the world. And that the aesthetics of the elites of the fading power must accommodate themselves to their new and impoverished position. That is the way of the world.

Therefore it is not a surprise that China's influence in the world in a variety of different areas of culture becomes more manifest as the years go by. Independent of that, America's influence could be predicted to decline, at least as far as its former middle class goes. The American elite will still go forward buying their racecars and whores, but the former middle class, now impoverished, must scale back its ambitions to consume to fit its new role in the globalized economy.

I am aware of four specific examples of this rise in Chinese influence, but two of these I only heard about in the last week. The four are: the impact of Chinese purchases for investment on real estate prices in North America, the role of the Chinese in the final extinction of the various remaining species of elephant, and the two surprises are the role of the Chinese in certain bizarre changes in elite car design in Germany and the spectacular changes in the prices of certain genre of French wine, in particular certain name brands from Bordeaux.

To get the first three out of the way so we can concentrate on wine, the following seems to be true. First, that the purchase of real estate for investment purposes and for bragging rights is resulting in a sustained demand and increased prices for real estate in certain prestige areas such as Manhattan, already expensive, and results in properties owned by the Chinese but not lived in. Second, and most unfortunate, Chinese traditional medicine has always made use of the ground up body parts of various endangered species. One in particular, the elephant, is being targetted for its ivory and this is leading to a catastrophic decrease in the remaining populations. The Chinese will probably be responsible for the final extinction of this wonderful animal after centuries of abuse by other cultures. The third, and actually quite odd, example is that (of course) the demand for elite automobiles has exploded in the Worker's Paradise and Mercedes in particular has been catering to this demand by changing their formerly understated and discreet design and making it wildly tacky, ostentatious, and even stupid in order to pander to the nouveau riche of Communist China.

Two of these examples are trivial, but the extinction of the elephant is a tragedy.

The fourth example was also a surprise to me because I have not been able to indulge my taste in French wine for many years. But I was going to a friend's house on Thanksgiving and I thought that this would be an opportunity to do so. What a surprise! Oh my!

To digress, I am a wine snob. When living in NY, one of my roommates was a Flamenco guitarist, and since you can not make a living at that, he also worked in the wine trade. I had him teach a class in the wines of Europe, and while we ventured into Italy and Spain, we mostly concentrated on red wine from the Bordeaux area. Wines in this area are highly esteemed by many groups and have been for many hundreds of years. But in one year in particular, the French government worked with industry to bring order out of chaos in conjunction with the planning for the Exposition of 1855, and at the request of Napoleon III, and as a result created the famous Classification of 1855 which ranked French wine from the Bordeaux region into five classes: the so called first growth wines through the fifth growth.

This classification has been very stable over the years with very few changes since 1855 and has in a sense become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A first and second growth winery will by definition be worth more, get more investment, and therefore be able to afford to make the changes necessary to maintain or increase the quality of their product.

Among the wines of this classification are some of the most famous wines in the world, including the wines of Chateau Lafite Rothschid, Chateau Mouton, Chateau Margaux and so forth. These wines of course commanded a premium price.

But there were some good deals among these classified Bordeaux and not all the great wines of France were out of reach of even the most modest of middle class American as long as they did a little homework to understand which vintages were worth buying and could plan a bit in advance. The more willing one was to plan in advance and make a modest investment, the better one would do.

Well those days are over, at least for certain name Chateau, and it is all because the Chinese have gone a little nutty, so some say, over certain of these wines.

For example, a well known and esteemed wine was the third wine of the Chateau Lafite Rothchild. This wine, the Carraudes de Lafite, was deliberately styled to be a well balanced, very drinkable wine, ready to drink as soon as it was on the market. Made from the vines that were not yet ready to contribute to the great vines of the estate, this wine was a fabulous wine that did not have to be kept for decades to be drinkable, would never be the very best wine, but was better than nearly any other red wine at a reasonable price. In the absence of the availability of something that has been around 20 years and commanding a high price at the last minute, one could pick up this wine of nearly any vintage and be very happy and pay no more than $35.00 a bottle.

So I look this wine up on the Internet and find it listed for $350.00 or so. I am confused. I wonder, maybe this is for a case (12 bottles) and not a single bottle?

No, the Chinese have gone nutty for Lafite and several other name brands and prices have gone up a factor of 10 or 20 in just the last few years.  A better bottle of wine which formerly went for a few hundred dollars, still expensive by any measure, will now sell for over $1,000 or even $2,000 a bottle.

Not all wines have exploded this much in price, but in general the wines of the Bordeaux region are for the most part, out of reach.

I just want to thank the Chinese for this little exercise in free market economics in the service of the rich and hope that they find the opportunity to choke on their wine and die.

Thanks again guys for reminding me how little I count for in the world.

I appreciate it.

____________________________________________________

Classification of 1855

Chateau Lafite Rothschild


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Secret Cables of the Comintern


Those of you who aspire to be a faithful student of the cold war will be pleased to hear about a fabulous online resource, the Journal of Intelligence and Security, apparently published by Taylor Francis. The archive is online and I think that by jumping through hoops one can get a certain number of articles for free.

But even if you do not read the journal articles themselves, they make available their book reviews of the current literature and I have found that very useful as a guide or index into subjects.

In particular they review a new book that has resulted from the brief period when certain archives of the Comintern of the former USSR were public. One result of that openness is a collection of secret cables from this organization, the Communist International, sometimes also known as the Third International, which was the organization that worked for Communist revolution in the world.

Our reviewer has something amusing to say about revisionist history in the 1970s and 1980s when it was discovered to the horror of many in this country that the accusation of Soviet control of the American Communist Party and the work of various people such as Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs was not merely right wing paranoid conspiracy theories but were based in fact.

Here is an excerpt from that review.



You can read the full review here:


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Sympathy App


What I need is an app that gives me sympathy when I am sick with the flu. My friends can not be counted on for that.  They are too busy managing their trust funds and flying to Europe or China first class.  They think that just because I was not tortured in the Congo that I should be grateful. Its good to know who your friends are.

I can feel sorry for myself better than anyone else I know.

When I get my new smartphone I plan to write an app that gives me (and others) sympathy. We all need a little sympathy now and then, even if we have not been tortured in Kinhasa.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Secret Intelligence Appreciation Day Part 1

draft

Please join me in calling on our Government to declare “Secret Intelligence Appreciation Day”, a day on which we pay homage to our selfless public servants sneaking around on our behalf. On this special day we also work to educate our woefully ignorant masses about the nuances and aesthetics of secret intelligence.

More than any time since the late, lamented Cold War passed away, ordinary people are discussing a seemingly endless stream of revelations about secret intelligence, secret missions, and special operations. It has become a topic of hipster parties and a test of faith among people who are sensitive to the shifting trends of what opinions are required in polite society. “Did you hear?” they say, “Did you hear that America actually *spied* on someone and then they used drones! Oh my God!

I listen and read these discussions and shake my head with dismay at the primitive and je jeune aesthetics and misinformation with which the self-appointed elite respond to the latest breathless disclosures whether by a would-be whistle blower, or a superannuated Vietnam era counterrevolutionary, by Anonymous or someone pretending to be Anonymous, by Wikileaks or yes by everyone's favorite, Ed Snowden, the little spy who couldnt stop.

Instead of complaining they should be happy and feel blessed to live in an era where we are privileged to know such things because historically this is quite rare. And I have wondered if whether the expressions of outrage comes in part from a lack of aesthetic training in this area. People have to study to understand Mahler, perhaps they should have to expect to study to understand the Berlin Tunnel.

So here at Global Wahrman, I propose to lead a modest seminar from time to time in “special intelligence appreciation” so that you the reader can heighten your knowledge of these arcane matters and appreciate them for what they are and what they are not.

Unless of course you know all this stuff already, which many of you do.

First a note on sources and controversies. Many of you know that I hold rather eclectic opinions on some matters; opinions that are outside the mainstream. To the best of my knowledge that will not be the case here. The intent here is to go over some very uncontroversial general principles, that I hope, and with sincere good faith, are pretty much just true. There is always nuance of course, and “all generalizations are wrong” and we will try to point these out as we go along. On the other hand, when I say something like “in my humble opinion” or “it is my speculation” feel free to laugh because that is just me guessing.

I am no great scholar to know these things, I am just a layman who has an interest and who reads a lot. And if you are interested in these matters then you can know this stuff as well.

First we go over the boring principles, then we get to the more fun ones.

In the following, IC stands for Intelligence Community which is a blanket term used to refer to the 17 different independent agencies of the US Government responsible for intelligence matters. POTUS stands for President of the United States.  CONUS stands for Continental United States, which means the 48 states not including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. 

1. Is it legal for the US Government to keep secrets from the American people?
2. Is it legal for the US Government to keep secrets from the US Congress?
3. Is it legal for the IC to break the law?
4. Why do we have so many different agencies?
5. Are all of these agencies a part of the Department of Defense / Pentagon?
6. Does the CIA / NSA go around killing people?
7. Why do we spy on our allies?
8. Why do we do spend all this money and do these sort of things? What about love?
9. How do we know about any of these things at all?

(and now a little more fun)

10. I hear that George Bush was warned about 911 and did nothing. 
11. What happens when a secret intelligence project is leaked.
12. I read that so and so is moving to Germany so that the NSA cant spy on them. 
13. When such-and-such project was leaked, the learker said it was illegal, was it?
14. Why is the government so intent on prosecuting Ed Snowden? 
15. Is it true that drones kill civilians?

(and even more)

16. How can I believe anything they say. How do I know the POTUS isnt lying about something?
17. Why dont the various agencies of the IC work together better?
18. Arent they really hiding a secret plot to kill Americans just like I see in the movies.
19.  Why doesnt Congress do something to stop these horrible activities?

(and finally, my opinions about ... )

20. Seymore Hirsch.
21. Glenn Greenwalt, Laura Poitras, Wikileaks.


So, here we go!

Continued in Part 2....



Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Congo, The War in Africa, the Criminality of Corporations

draft

With this post we are beginning a new feature on Global Wahrman, a multi-topic reading list of books that represent some deep background for my readers in areas that I think are at the very least interesting, and in a few cases maybe even important as a modern citizen of our crumbling civilization to know.

We start with the great title of Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa by Jason Stearns


If you are like me, you are dimly aware that there is a country called the Congo in Africa and that bad things have happened there in the past as well as the present. But if you are like me, you know very little about what the current situation is and whether it is better, worse, indifferent, what the prospects for them are, how we can help, whether or not we should help and a host of other issues.

Jason Stearns lived in Congo for many years and interviewed many of the protagonists or antagonists of his book and so describes the history of from about 1996 on in a very engaging way. I simply was not aware of this war and its relationship to the genocide in Rwanda, not to mention the role of other countries in Africa, humanitarian organizations, rebel groups, ethnic groups, and history of all sorts.

It also brings up a very interesting problem which I was aware existed but not to the extent. Contrary to what many people believe, the problems in Congo do not come from Western lust for their great mineral wealth, says Stearns. But what is true is that the various wars are financed in large part by various countries and groups occupying a part of former Congo-infrastructure and making deals with Western companies to get the minerals out to the market. Thus Rwanda occupied a part of Congo with certain types of mines and made deals for the minerals there. In the process of occupying that part of Congo and arranging this financial deal, the Rwanda Army was guilty of various massacres in retribution for resistance activity in the area. We are talking about a thousand people murdered in cold blood and other incidents.

The point of mentioning this tiny detail on a much larger tragedy is that in general we have no sanctions against companies that make deals of this type and thus end up financing groups that are committing atrocities or grossly violated the human rights of their workers, e.g. when that labor is nothing more than abused slave labor. The point is that it is up to us to change the law so that companies are held liable in both criminal and civil courts for their support of groups that commit these crimes. I think it is OK for us to spend a little extra for our copper or our capacitors in return for not using slave labor.

Have I over simplified the situation? Yes, no doubt I have. So I encourage you to read this book which goes into the context of a small number of these situations and then go on from there to study the issue in more detail than Stearns can go into.

One thing I am sure of, none of these companies are innocent. They are very aware the circumstances under which these minerals are produced and, like so many other companies of our modern Globalized society, are perfectly happy to see people be slaughtered in cold blood and killed in labor gangs if it makes them a fast buck.

By failing to criminalize this behavior we tacitly support it and thus are also, in part, responsible.



Saturday, November 14, 2015

Computer Sciences Corporation Makes A Fast Buck by Betraying Country

draft


This story today about greed and stupidity features CSC, the Computer Sciences Corporation, a very well known and very large government contractor on important security projects. What you need to know going in is that there is zero possibility that CSC was unaware of what a gross violation not only of law but of trust that the government has, or had, in them by doing what they did.  What did they do?

CSC and another company was hired to engineer an important secure communications system at the Pentagon. A whistleblower revealed that the two companies had subcontracted out a significant part of that project to Russian programmers in Moscow which is not only a direct violation of the letter and spirit of their contract but incredibly stupid as well.

Of course they did this for the best reason that all companies, from Volkswagon to Exxon, violate the law: to make a fast buck at the expense of the people they claim to be working for.

And furthermore, the top executives will probably use the "Volkswagon Defense":, that is, if anyone asks them why they did it, they will no doubt say that they didn't know, and that "engineers" had done it.  That is why we pay these executives 10s of millions a year in salary, bonuses and termination packages, to come up with stupid shit like that.

In this case, it is known that there have been security breaches because of this immense stupidity, at least one virus inserted by the Russians, and who knows how many more, but are the companies punished?

Not really.

The two companies have not admitted to their flagrant violation of law, they have paid a trivial penalty that would not cover even a few pennies of the real costs, and it is now up to the craven and weak Department of Justice to file criminal charges if they dare. But the DOJ never files criminal charges against major US Companies, that would violate every principle that the DOJ stands for which is to protect and exalt the rich.

So one more time we have an example where the so-called free market, e.g. naked greed, violates any and every principle or morality that they claim to uphold.

Good going CSC.

This story is not being covered by the mainstream press as it uses too many big words and probably would not sell as many newspapers, or web clicks, but you can read about it here:

http://intelnews.org/2015/11/12/01-1809/

The US Government should immediately cancel all contracts with CSC and investigate to see in what other ways this criminal organization has violated the trust we had in them.

The Computer Sciences Corporation can be found here.  Their web page gives no indication of to what extent they are a defense contractor.  

http://www.csc.com/

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Never Mind the Whining


One side effect of the cavalier medical system available to the citizen with ADHD is that he or she will be required to go without medication for an unknown period of time on an irregular schedule. For those of you who know better and know that it must be the fault of the patient, you are very sincerely advised to get this problem and try to solve it without money. You are invited. I have been managing this for about 30 years and I assure you what I tell you is true. You will be expected to go without medication.

And when that happens, there will be or rather, there may be, a variety of transitory mood states.

I inflicted one of these states on my friends on Facebook and my blog in the last few days.  I am very sorry and I hope you will accept my apology.

When I go off medication, then various anxiety disorders that I normally manage (e.g. suppress) work there way out to the world.

I wish I could promise you that it will not happen in the future but I cant. I know that I will have to go without medication and I know that this will bring out the anxiety disorders. From there it is hit and miss whether I will bother my friends with it.

The alternative, of course, is what you already know, which is that I become a recluse in order to avoid bothering anyone.

I hope that my readers are filled with patience and understanding.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Relentless Universe, Immersive VR, This Sat and Sunday, Audri Phillips Performing




On Saturday and Sunday there will be a performance of Relentless Universe, a VR immersive event starring among other Audri Philips, whose blog is featured on Global Wahrman.

Read all about it here.







There must be something the matter with this blog that this is the first use of the tags "live performance" or "immersive VR".

Something must be done!

Go see Audri and make this genre of artform happen.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Relationship Between Sugar - Based Nutrition and Superhero Movies in America


As we all know, there have been recent, well-publicized attacks on American core values, on our culture and our civilization. These attacks strike at the very center of what it is to be an American and is nothing less than an attempt to destroy America from within.

I am of course referring to the disingenuous attempts to get Americans to stop eating sugar.

Americans instinctively know what is good for them and foods made out of high fructose corn syrup is as good for you as a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and grits. America was built by strong hands that were made strong through breakfasts of this type. Not to mention coffee with a lot of sugar. Maybe a muffin or two.

Lets look at the types of foods that these pretentious intellectuals would have us remove from our diet. Coffee with several heaping tea spoons of sugar, glazed donuts, ice cream sodas, waffles with syrup, Sugar Frosted Flakes, chocolate cake with ice cream, candy of all sorts.



The American diet is a healthy diet.

If America which is surely in its decline were to abandon its values and turn its back on the traditions that made this country great, were it to fall into this decadence and sin, then those that lead this attack against righteousness can be expected to attack another pillar of American strength, movies about comic-book superheroes.

They will say, these scum will accuse, these movies of being as empty of nutrition and cultural content as a box of Skittles or chocolate-covered raisins. These self-appointed keepers of nutrition and elite culture will try to tell us that we do not need another movie about the X People or the Avengers or even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


The food of the God's encoded in chemical form ?


They are wrong, of course.  Not merely wrong, but anti-American.

Just as these wanna-be arbiters of our diet would point to a donut and claim it is nothing more than dough fried in grease with a lot of sugar, so they would point to another great movie about superheroes, for example, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and claim that this movie has no worthwhile plot, characters, motivations, while it is filled with violence and stupid helicopter-like aircraft carriers.  Yes it is true that a donut is made of fried dough with sugar and, on the surface, A:AOU is empty of even the flimsiest justification for its fulsome budget, in reality it speaks to the greatness of the American filmmaking tradition just as the donut speaks to our fine and healthy American traditional cuisine.  This does not even need to be defended.  Even the most craven of anti-American sentiment can see this is true.

Besides look out in the world.  What else would we do with the money, the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on such fine films?  Feed the starving in Sudan?  Please be serious.  Educate our poor and disenfranchised people? Why bother? They are poor and they deserve to be poor. Everyone knows that.

There is a link between the great nutrition inherent in sugar frosted flakes and the cultural content of another Bat movie. These are the elements that have made America strong.

Yet that is what the so-called experts are saying we should do. Turn our backs on this bountiful harvest that we have grown with our own two hands. This very nectar of the Gods. The calories, vitamins, minerals, proteins, steroids, and most of all, the sugar that has powered Americans through the abolition of slavery, war and oppression and enabled us to make superlative superhero movie after superhero movie.

Faithless people! To turn your back on the great cuisine of America, brought to this shores by the huddled masses yearning to be free, free to drink Coca Cola, get an ice cream soda after the drive-in movie, or to start the day with a dozen or so glazed donuts and coffee, waffles with butter, and breakfast food cereals.

I think that subconsciously Americans realize that this is wrong, and feeling guilt, yearn for a simpler time. A time when we ate chocolate cake with pride, and not disgusting boiled kale with sesame seeds. A time when a real man would smoke unfiltered Marlboros and get up on his horse and go punch cattle.

Stand firm, America! Do not let these so-called nutritionists badger you to abandon the foods and movies that have made America the land of the free and the home of the breakfast food cereal marketing a superhero movie. Stay true to your values. This too will pass.


As American as a slice of hot Apple Pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 


Health Threat of Sugar is Vastly Underestimated Study Claims
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/27/sugar-health-threat-underestimated-obesity-study-claims

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ultron's Lament


When society looks back to this period of filmmaking, will they see great work? Will they perceive the depth of character, talent and genius that informed the works of Ibsen, Checkov, Pushkin, Moliere, de la Barca, Jan deBont and Michael Bey? Or will they see a noble artform brought to its knees and destroyed by waves of computer animated visual effects full of sound and fury and signifying very little.

Only time will tell but let us not forget that it took decades before critics saw even masterpieces like The Mummy (1933) with clear eyes and recognized its genius.

So it may be with the current crop of endless X-People, Fantastic 4, Avengers, Bat People and so forth. There may be substance behind their otherwise superficial facade waiting to be discovered.

I think that there is such depth and I propose to you as an example an otherwise overlooked scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). When I first saw this film I did not understand why it was made. It seemed not shallow, but paper thin shallow, without an idea in its head beyond the mere empty greed of the studio executive and his or her insatiable desire to exploit children for every penny they were worth.

But sometimes great work needs time and space to flower and demonstrate its greatness and I had occasion to watch this film several times in pursuit of another idea, one that demonstrates a linkage between the campaign against sugar in the American diet with a similar conspiracy against films about superheroes, when I noticed a scene of great pathos and feeling hiding among the explosions and pointless plot elements.

The scene involved the Scarlett Johannsen character as a foil for the attention of the uber - robot and AI intelligence, Ultron, the nominal villain. In this scene, he plays the part of the villain who feels the need to explain his evil plan for world domination or destruction to our hero, or in this case, our heroine.

Our token woman or lust object, one of three women with a speaking role in the entire film, lies unconscious on the floor after a battle. She groans, not realizing where she is, Ultron's laboratory, and Ultron notices she is awake and begins his great soliloquy.





We are at approximately 1:29:17 into the film.

                                                             ULTRON

                              I wasn't sure you would awaken. I hoped you
                              would, I wanted to show you.
                              I know, I haven't anyone else.
                              I read a lot about the meteor, the purity of them.
                              Boom! The end. Start again.
                              The world made clean for the new man to rebuild.
                              I was meant to be new.
                              I was meant to be beautiful.
                              The world would have looked to the sky and seen hope.
                              Seen mercy.
                              But instead they will look up in horror, because of you.
                              You've wounded me. I give you full marks for that.
                              But like the man said ... what doesn't actually kill you ...

METAL EXOSKELETON EXPLODES TO REVEAL THE NEW ULTRON

                              just makes me stronger.

CLOSES PRISON DOOR


Admittedly this scene ends in a noisy way not entirely compatible with the early monologue, but this is by far the most human and interesting acting in the entire film with the possible exception of when Ultron has his heart ripped from his chest, by the other woman superhero, near the end of the film.

Ultron is just a fool for women, it would seem.

Why do they make these movies?